• Disinformation and Russian Intelligence with Michael Isikoff

    Air Dates: October 14-20, 2019

    In the early morning hours of July 10, 2016, a young staffer for the Democratic National Committee was murdered as he walked home from a bar.  Without any real evidence, Seth Rich’s death became a focal point for efforts to debunk the story that Russia hacked the DNC to help Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.  Michael Isikoff, however, tells us that the conspiracy theories around Seth Rich’s murder have a remarkable origin: Russian intelligence. 

    Isikoff is an investigative journalist who is currently the Chief Investigative Correspondent at Yahoo News.  He is also the co-author with of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”  Isikoff previously served as the national investigative correspondent for NBC News and Newsweek, writing extensively on the U.S. government’s War on Terrorism, the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse, campaign finance, presidential politics, and other national issues.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Isikoff discusses the divisive issues Russia seeks to perpetuate.  He cites the ideological “silos” social media creates as one of the key factors in the disinformation equation, saying, “it is hard to overstate how insidious this sort of thing is, because disinformation in the social media age is now the ‘way we do business.’”  Isikoff emphasizes how difficult discussions about serious issues facing the country can be when everyone remains in their own silo.

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • The Value of Liberal Arts in a Digital World with Scott Hartley

    Air Dates: October 7-13, 2019

    For generations, a liberal arts education was the gold standard of preparation for career and a well-rounded-life.  For much of the last decade, however, voices—including those of prominent technology leaders—have warned that the jobs of today and tomorrow require education in so-called STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Not surprisingly, enrollments in liberal arts fields have declined.  Scott Hartley argues that far more than a luxury—the skills and perspective cultivated by a liberal arts education are precisely the skills needed for the modern information economy. 

    Scott Hartley is a venture capitalist and the author of “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World,” a Financial Times business book of the month. It was also a finalist for the Financial Times and McKinsey & Company’s Bracken Bower Prize an author under 35. He has been a Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV), and a Venture Partner at Compound. Prior to venture capital, Hartley worked at Google, Facebook, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and at the White House as a Presidential Innovation Fellow.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Hartley emphasizes the value of a liberal arts education and encourages moving away from the transactional expectation of today’s educational experience.  He describes a “crisis of empathy” in today’s society that surfaces when big issues are faced and attributes the capacity for empathy to learning by “standing outside oneself,” a skill that can be sharpened through the study of subjects like history and literature that “put [us] in the mind or time period of another.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • The Iranian Nuclear Landscape with Ilan Goldenberg

    Air Dates: September 30-October 6, 2019

    In 2015, the United States and Iran concluded years of difficult diplomacy that froze Iran’s nuclear weapons program for ten years.  Less than two years later, Donald Trump was president and withdrew the United States
    from that agreement in May of 2018.  IIan Goldenberg warns that while neither the United States nor Iran want a war, the potential for miscalculation and stumbling into war are quite high.

    Ilan Goldenberg is Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  He is a foreign policy and defense expert with extensive government experience covering Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the broader challenges facing the Middle East.  Just prior to CNAS, Goldenberg served as the Chief of Staff to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations at the U.S. Department of State, playing a key role in supporting Secretary Kerry’s initiative to conduct permanent status peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  Goldenberg has also served as Policy Director and was one of the founding staff members of the National Security Network.

    In his interview on “Story in the Public Square,” Goldenberg comments on status of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after the United States’ departure in 2018.  Goldenberg says the agreement is “on life support,” predicting that it will no longer exist as we know it in a few months’ time, but adds, “A lot of the elements that were a part of the [original] deal can be a part of a future agreement.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Gun Violence as a Public Health Crisis with Joseph Sakran

    Air Dates: September 23-29, 2019

    On an otherwise typical Friday night in 1994, 17-year-old Joseph Sakran, a high school student in Northern Virginia, was shot through his throat by an errant bullet from a fight at a high school football game.  Trauma surgeons saved his life, launching him on a career as a trauma surgeon and as a leading voice against gun violence. 

    Dr. Joseph Sakran is the Director of Emergency General Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital with additional expertise in General Surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery, and Robotic and Laparoscopic Surgery.  He also specializes in injury prevention, outcomes research, trauma system development, public policy and advancement of surgery in poor resource settings.  Sakran is one of the nation’s leading professional voices against gun violence, dealing with it as both a public-health and political issue.  He is founder of Docs Demand Action, a “movement of Americans demanding common sense solutions to end gun violence in our nation.”

    In his interview on “Story in the Public Square,” Sakran emphasizes his view of gun violence as a public health crisis.  He, like many healthcare professionals, experiences the daily effects of gun violence whose victims’ stories often go untold.  Sakran calls for systemic change that will make it is less-likely for people to be impacted by gun violence.

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • System or Market? The Political Debate over Healthcare in America with Michael Fine

    Air Dates: September 16-22, 2019

    The political debate over healthcare in the United States seems cyclical—it rises and falls with America’s political calendar.  Dr. Michael Fine argues that for patients and caregivers, issues like cost, access, and outcomes are real, they are present, and they often have life-and-death consequences.

    A former director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, Fine has been a writer, community organizer, family physician and public health official for more than 40 years. In addition to his book, Health Care Revolt: How to Organize, Build a Health Care System, and Resuscitate Democracy―All at the Same Time, he has published widely in the medical literature, mostly about health policy.  He also served as a medical officer in Kenya and worked as a volunteer during the Liberian Civil War, the subject of Abundance, his first novel.

    In this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” co-host Jim Ludes asks Fine how the American healthcare experience compares to others in the world.  Fine says, “America is the outlier…we spend more than anyone else and twice as much as the average of other industrialized countries and 60 percent more than countries with the best health outcomes.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • The Tribalization of Politics with Ian Reifowitz

    Air Dates: September 9-15, 2019

    When Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, pundits and leading news outlets heralded the arrival of a “post-racial America.”  Some Americans, however, didn’t see it that way.  Ian Reifowitz discusses the exploitation of race in the Obama years by one of America’s prominent conservative opinion makers, Rush Limbaugh, in his latest book, The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump.

    Reifowitz is professor of Historical Studies at Empire State College of the State University of New York.  He is a Contributing Editor at Daily Kos and his articles have appeared in numerous outlets, including Daily News, Newsday, and the New Republic. In addition to his latest book, Reifowitz has also authored Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity and Imagining an Austrian Nation: Joseph Samuel Bloch and the Search for a Multiethnic Austrian Identity, 1846–1919. 

    In this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Reifowitz defines tribalization as the “[establishment of] a divide based on resentment and hate of one group in our political system toward the other.” He links Rush Limbaugh’s divisive goals when speaking about the Obama presidency to the larger theme of white identity politics that has fueled divides seen in today’s American socio-political landscape.   

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Image from a Fall 2016 Lecture on Pope Francis' encyclical.

    Fall 2019 Event Series Announced

    Pell Center has announced its event series for Fall 2019. Tickets to Pell Center events are free and will be available about two weeks prior to the event date. Please RSVP for each event on the Pell Center’s Eventbrite page and call 401-341-2927 or email [email protected] with questions. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up for our email list and stay informed about when tickets become available. All events will take place at the Bazarsky Lecture Hall in the O’Hare Academic Center.


    American Democracy and the Authoritarian Tradition of the West

    Dr. Mario DiNunzio, Providence College

    September 17, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

    Bazarsky Lecture Hall O’Hare Academic Building


    Atwood Lecture

    “When the World Falls Apart: Nicholas Black Elk, Sainthood, and the Spirits of Mercy”

    Dr. Damian Costello, Author, Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism

    September 26, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

    Bazarsky Lecture Hall O’Hare Academic Building


     Power to the People

    Dr. Audrey Kurth Cronin, American University

    October 7, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

    Bazarsky Lecture Hall O’Hare Academic Building


    Convicted and Condemned: The Politics of Prisoner Reentry

    Dr. Keesha M. Middlemass, Howard University

    November 5, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

    Bazarsky Lecture Hall O’Hare Academic Building


    Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

    Dr. Jamie Metzel, Atlantic Council

    November 19, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

    Bazarsky Lecture Hall O’Hare Academic Building

  • Dr. Iskander Rehman’s Detailed Study of Cardinal Richelieu’s Grand Strategy Released by Texas National Security Review

    The web version of the essay was released in June, while the PDF and Print Version were made available in August, and can be downloaded here.

    In the latest issue of the leading national security journal Texas National Security Review, Senior Fellow Dr. Iskander Rehman engages in a detailed and interdisciplinary analysis of Cardinal Richelieu’s grand strategy during the Thirty Years’ War.

    One of history’s more polarizing figures, Richelieu is perhaps best known for three things: his unabashed authoritarianism, his efforts to stiffen the sinews of the French state, and his controversial decision to position France as a counterweight to Habsburg hegemony through a network of alliance with Protestant powers.  

    Rehman’s essay, which draws on both primary and secondary sources, focuses on this last aspect of the famous statesman’s life and legacy—his conception and practice of great power competition.  What philosophy of power and statecraft underpinned the cardinal’s approach to balancing and collective security? To what extent was Richelieu truly successful, and what lessons can contemporary foreign policy experts derive from his policies and actions?




  • Exploring the Meaning of Justice with Christopher Brown

    Air Dates: September 2-8, 2019

    The concept of justice is central to the American experience.  We celebrate it in our monuments and in our history.  But who gets justice, and who defines it are seldom considered questions.  Christopher Brown is a practicing attorney and dystopian novelist who combines his talents in a new novel exploring these concepts in a different America.

    Brown is a writer and lawyer whose 2017 debut novel, Tropic of Kansas was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of the year.  His latest novel, Rule of Capture, is a dystopian legal thriller that explores the meaning of justice.  Set in the world of Tropic of Kansas, Brown describes Rule of Capture as “Better Call Saul” meets 1984.

    Brown described dystopian fiction as a kind of realism.  He builds his fiction from the material of the observed world and dials certain elements up or down “to help readers explore truths in the world around them more clearly.”  

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Golden Years: Social Inequalities in Later Life with Deborah Carr

    Air Times: August 26-September 1, 2019

    Some Americans will be able to enjoy their golden years.  Others will not. Deborah Carr argues that the biggest factor determining which side of that equation you fall on is your socioeconomic status—that combination of education, income, and occupation that determines your social standing.

    Carr is Professor and Chair in the Sociology department at Boston University. Her research focuses on aging and the life course, psycho-social factors and influences on health over the life course, and end-of-life issues.  Her latest book, Golden Years: Social Inequalities in Later Life, delves into the ways that persistent race, class, and gender inequalities shape experiences of old age in the United States.

    In her interview on “Story in the Public Square,” Carr describes the disparity between the idealized picture of retirement and the reality for many Americans.  She notes much of this divide can be attributed to socioeconomic status and describes the impact limited financial means and support systems can have on an individual’s quality of life in their later years. 

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.